Spotlight on: Monmouth Arts

By Janet Mazur Cavano

Courtesy of Monmouth Arts

Turning to a creative outlet during challenging times such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can make a huge difference in one’s well-being. This is especially so for children who often do not  have a way to express their fears and anxieties.  It is no surprise then that “Creative Expressions Arts and Wellness,” the art therapy program  Monmouth Arts recently launched, has taken off  so successfully. 

“It is SO needed right now,” said Teresa Staub, executive director of Monmouth Arts. “When we did other programming, we saw how children are struggling, and how much that has increased; there is still so much they are going through.”

Funded by a 2021 Impact 100 Jersey Coast grant of $107,500, the program addresses youth mental health issues by engaging children in artistic self-expression. During a four to six-week period, teams build relationships with the children and identify those who could benefit from additional mental health services. 

This summer alone, in seven different locations across Monmouth County,  some 387 children ages 5 through teens have participated.  They have learned  to reduce  stress, channel negativity and create beautiful art in the process.  Ten working artists and mental health professionals, including several Spanish-speakers,  are guiding the children through workshops on drumming, Hip-Hop dancing and empowerment through movement.  Other programs focus on fine art and writing including, “What’s on your mind,” a program where participants create a self-portrait and then write a short paragraph about who they are. 

In addition, “Creative Expressions,” recently offered an innovative activity, “The Art  of Letting Go,”  at Freehold Raceway Mall. Participants were invited to write on balloons the negative things they’re trying to push out or escape from. Likewise, Monmouth Arts sponsored a Teen Arts Festival.

Among the feedback Monmouth Arts has received from participants:

“The art sessions made me feel a little relaxed.”

“It made me feel happy and calming while I was listening to music.”

“I like that I can draw what I want.”


Good being able to draw my feelings.”

Through the grant,  Monmouth Arts has hired a coordinator to oversee the entire program and will continue to offer more workshops in the fall. The ultimate aim  is to reach 2,000 children.

 “We are more than on track to reach our goals and objectives,” Staub said, adding that the organization is seeking more places to offer “Creative Expressions,” such as after school programs.  In fact, if your group could benefit from “Creative Expressions,” contact Monmouth Arts. 

Celebrating its 50th year in operation, Monmouth Arts  is a leading, independent, 501c(3) arts advocacy organization that delivers needed programs and services to artists, member organizations, and art affiliates to ensure the arts thrive in every corner of Monmouth County. Its mission is to  provide programs and services that support the practice, presence, and influence of the arts and of artists throughout the county.

Since its inception in 2016, Impact 100 Jersey Coast has awarded more than $2,000,000 in transformational grants to 18 local organizations. A women’s giving circle, Impact has created a forum to raise awareness of the community’s most pressing needs and fund transformational grants for high-impact projects addressing those needs. Impact 100 JC has also  expanded its giving circle to encompass the richness of ideas, perspectives and the participation of diverse women from a wide range of identities. 

Monmouth Arts

Monmouth Arts

Arts and Culture


Monmouth Arts provides programs and services that support the practice, presence, and influence of the arts and of artists throughout Monmouth County.


In partnership with teaching artists and mental health professionals, the Creative Expressions Arts & Wellness Program will apply art forms such as painting, music, and dance to address the rise in mental health issues in Monmouth County youth due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Impact 100 Jersey Coast Tops $2,000,000 In Transformational Grants Awarded

Six years of collective women’s giving allow 18 organizations to address local unmet needs

Impact 100 Jersey Coast announced that its members have awarded four $107,500 transformational grants, totaling $430,000, to area nonprofit organizations. Despite a challenging year, the 430 members of the philanthropic women’s volunteer organization were able to honor organizations that are making a difference in Monmouth County, NJ. These nonprofits now have a remarkable opportunity to sustain and strengthen their programs, broaden their reach and increase their impact.

Although this year’s Impact Annual Meeting was virtual due to COVID, the excitement was palpable. The event was the eagerly-awaited culmination of Impact 100’s months of efforts to direct substantial support to local non-profit organizations. After a comprehensive evaluation by more than 80 grant review committee members, five finalists representing the categories of Arts & Culture, Children & Families, Education, Sustainability & Environment, and Health & Wellness were selected  from a pool of 61 grant applicants. Finalist information packets were sent to the entire Impact 100 membership in advance of the Annual Meeting to allow members to prepare, and absentee ballots were included in the final vote count on the night following project presentations by the finalists.  

Thanks to the generosity of 430 Impact 100 members who each contributed $1,000 towards the 2021 grant fund, four inspiring and high-impact projects were awarded $107,500 each. The grant recipients include: 

Monmouth Arts

Monmouth Arts

Arts and Culture


Monmouth Arts provides programs and services that support the practice, presence, and influence of the arts and of artists throughout Monmouth County.


In partnership with teaching artists and mental health professionals, the Creative Expressions Arts & Wellness Program will apply art forms such as painting, music, and dance to address the rise in mental health issues in Monmouth County youth due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Community Affairs & Resource Center (CARC)

Children & Families

Community Affairs and Resource Center’s mission is to empower the community and strengthen youth and families by promoting self-sufficiency through education, advocacy and collaboration.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious condition that affects about one in seven mothers, and one in three low-income mothers. PPD has well-established consequences on infant development, including delayed cognitive development, behavioral issues, and the risk of developing depression or anxiety. Community Affairs and Resource Center’s (CARC) proposed project, ROSES, is an evidence-based preventative program that has been proven to reduce PPD in women by 50%. ROSES consists of a five-session bilingual education program using our university-developed curriculum, and nurse home visits before and after the baby is born. We are able to further support these new mothers with additional services provided by CARC and our network of community partners to address issues including food insecurity, domestic violence, and job training


Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey


Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping individuals and families achieve their best level of well-being by providing compassionate, coordinated, and innovative care in their homes and communities.

To address the alarming health outcomes data regarding the difference in the mortality rate of white women and babies, and women and babies of color, New Jersey is investing in culturally sensitive health services, including Doulas or nonclinical pregnancy/birth coaches, to improve birth outcomes. This grant would help fund a collaboration between VNA of Central Jersey, Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s Booker Family Health Center, and VNACJ Community Health Center to establish the first-ever Doula Learning Collaborative in Monmouth County. Key components include recruiting 10 prospective multi-cultural doulas from at-risk communities; subsidizing their training in a state-approved program and creating a learning community to support each doula’s development and to teach additional skills – in particular, the business skills to form a cooperative, successfully bill Medicaid for services rendered and provide excellent patient experience.

Parker Family Health Center

Parker Family Health Center

Health & Wellness

The mission of the Parker Family Health Center is to operate a free health care facility where Monmouth County residents without health insurance or the ability to pay for medical care can be treated with dignity and compassion. With the support of the medical community and the community at large, Parker Family Health Center will assist those who are making a sincere effort to help themselves and their families realize optimum health.

To respond to the urgent need created by the pandemic and the continued demand for free medical care, Parker is requesting support for a much-needed expansion. This expansion will increase the number of patients cared for by adding a new examination room, telehealth and social service spaces, and a large, multipurpose room to be utilized for educational purposes benefitting staff, board, volunteers, patients, and the community at large.

A special grant from our community partner OceanFirst Foundation!

In the true “Impact Strong” spirit of collaborative grantmaking, our generous community partner, OceanFirst Foundation, was inspired to provide a grant of $2,500 to our 2021 runner-up, Marty’s Place Senior Dog Sanctuary (Sustainability & Environment), and Impact Jersey Coast would like to offer our deepest thanks!

“Impact 100 Jersey Coast has once again proved we are truly stronger together!” said Deirdre Spiropoulos, Impact 100 Jersey Coast President and co-founder. “This time of year encapsulates what can happen when women unite together to pool our individual resources to help our community.”

Impact 100’s mission is to award member-funded transformational grants to local nonprofit organizations, enabling them to strengthen or expand their services, while empowering women of different ages and backgrounds to improve lives through philanthropy. Since its founding in 2015, the organization has awarded more than $2 million to 18 Monmouth County nonprofits to help them address unmet needs and reach underserved populations. Updates are given throughout the year about the progress of the recipients’ programs made possible through the grant funding.

Impact 100 Jersey Coast membership for the 2022 Class is open now and upcoming recruitment events can be found online at Members donate $1,100 each, with funds pooled to award significant annual grants. Women throughout the area who would like to make an important and memorable impact in their community are invited to join our unique giving circle. The 2022 membership drive is underway if you’d like to join or want more information, please click here or email

About Impact 100 Jersey Coast

Impact 100 Jersey Coast is made up of women of different ages and backgrounds who combine charitable dollars, experience, and energy to make a tangible difference in our area. Impact’s mission is to award membership-funded transformational grants to local nonprofit organizations while empowering women to improve lives through philanthropy.

Since its founding in 2015, the organization has awarded more than $2 million to 18 local nonprofits. Learn more about Impact 100 Jersey Coast, its members and mission at

Spotlight on: HABcore

By Stephanie Posner, Anne Yeh & Mary Riley

2020 grant recipient, HABcore, invited the Impact 100 team to see their progress first-hand. On June 10th Marta Quinn, Senior Director of Development at HABcore toured the group around the area surrounding the Red Bank boarding house to show the development and community on the west side. (COVID-19 restrictions prohibited the group from going inside.)

The Impact grant for HabCore was to support their Independence Pathways (IP) Program, which combines affordable housing with coordinated services to assist individuals and families struggling with chronic physical and mental health issues to maintain stable housing and receive appropriate support and employment services. With our support, they were able to hire two case managers for the Program.

The group was able to see first-hand how our grant is being used to support the HABcore IP program.  And in addition, they learned about many other resources in the area which are helping families in the community in various ways.

“After the year we had, it was so inspiring to meet the HABcore team and see the projects first hand!” said Linda Lautenberg.

HABcore visit

Attendees: Marta Quinn, Senior Director of Development at HABcore; From Impact: Anne Yeh, Grantee Liaison for HABcore; Deidre Spiropoulos; Heather Burke; Linda Lautenberg; Casey DeStefano, and Amy Montano.

Above is HABcore’s River Street house, their most recent building project that was completed entirely through Covid!  It is a multi-family unit so everyone that calls this location home, participates in the IP program. Our Impact 100 grant goes directly to these families living here, by providing them with a skilled licensed clinical social worker to provide intensive services focused on employment services, parenting, and communication skills, leading a healthy lifestyle, and improving the children’s educational performance.  The caseworker encourages them to use the other community resources that we literally walked by, to help their families:

– Lunchbreak for food

– Monmouth Daycare so they can go to work

– The YMCA and Boys and Girls Club for active lifestyle choices

– and the Parker Family Health Clinic for healthcare.

The honest stories shared are about people, their resilience, and their hope for a better life.   The educational, inspirational, motivational, and thought-provoking tour will continue to inspire those who attended as HABcore and Impact 100 create this journey of experiences and life changes together. 

“It was a wonderful morning for me!  Not only to be together finally, but it was an eye-opening experience to see how that area of Red Bank has so many resources to help families!” commented Anne Yeh.


HABcore is an organization that provides permanent housing and individualized support and helps homeless families, veterans, and individuals with special needs move through crisis to stability, giving them the opportunity to improve their lives.

The Independence Pathways (IP) Program combines affordable housing with coordinated services to assist individuals and families struggling with chronic physical and mental health issues to maintain stable housing and receive appropriate support and employment services. Learn more at

Spotlight on: Clean Ocean Action

Transforming Our Community

By Stephanie Posner

Clean Ocean Action was a grant recipient in 2019.  Impact 100 helped to support the launch of the Student Environmental Advocates and Leaders (SEAL) program to develop a center of environmental stewardship for high school students in underserved communities.

The inaugural class was made up of 12 students from across Monmouth County. Taking on the motto of “go with the flow,” the team had to switch gears due to COVID and focused on a virtual program.  The group met twice a month and was joined by various local leaders and elected officials to learn about how the local community is working to protect the environment.  In January the students were asked to identify a global environmental problem which they wanted to help tackle.  They were asked to think global but act local – considering something they can do locally which can have a positive impact on the broader global issue.

The students focused on issues including reducing single use plastics, beach litter, and hydroponics. They presented their projects during a webinar on May 13th. To learn more about the projects you can view the recording online.

Learn about the SEAL program in this video

Click on the links to hear local projects:

  1. Jackie Rogers, Little Silver – Plastic Pollution
  2. Thomas Baron, Middletown – Beach Litter
  3. Orlanna Nolan, Highlands – Litter Pollution
  4. Sarah Taylor, Ocean Township – Hydroponics Heals
  5. Maya Burns, Keyport –  Storm Water Pollution
  6. Olivia Bonfort, Highlands – Rain Barrels
  7. Isabella Taborda, Eatontown – Education on recycling in elementary schools
  8. Olivia Fair, Highlands – Community Garden
  9. William Franznick, Middletown – Environmental Education Lesson Plans
  10. Chelsea Delalla, Ocean Township – Deforestation & Urbanization: Elementary School Education on the importance of planting trees

Clean Ocean Action is now recruiting eligible high school students to apply for the program for the upcoming academic year. Students from the following schools are eligible: Asbury Park, Henry Hudson, Keansburg, Keyport, Long Branch, Middletown North, Monmouth Regional, Neptune, Raritan, Red Bank Regional, and Ocean Township. Interested students can visit the “Education Programs” link at and complete the SEAL Student Interest Form.

About SEAL

The SEAL program, which was funded generously by Impact 100 Jersey Coast as their first environmental grant, offers eligible high school students a unique leadership learning experience focused on local environmental issues. SEAL students collaborate with peers across Monmouth County through bi-monthly virtual group training sessions to learn the basics of community grassroots activism and advocacy, and how it can be achieved in their own schools’ communities. Topics presented in the training sessions, featuring experts in that field, include, but are not limited to civics and the voting system, environmental justice, water quality, environmental careers, recycling crisis, and watershed mindfulness. Students make connections from the lessons to their local communities and learn to make real change through problem-based learning.

In addition, guest speakers, including elected officials, advocates, and activists will speak to the students to discuss successful strategies and campaigns to add real world context to the learning. To add a healthy bit of competition, Clean Ocean Action (COA) will use a point-based system to award students for their activities, leadership, collaboration, cohesiveness, stewardship and campaigns. Importantly, SEALs will help pass on their leadership and success to the community through presentations and engagement to middle schoolers and town councils. Interested high school students from eligible schools (listed earlier) should go to “Education Programs” at, contact Kristen Grazioso at 732-872-0111 or, and complete the SEAL Student Interest Form.

Andrea Verdone Gorsegner: Member in the Moment

Meet Impact 100 Jersey Coast Member Andrea Verdone Gorsegner

By Janet Mazur Cavano

Meet Andrea
Riding one’s exercise bike for 24 straight hours is an impressive feat, most would agree. Raising more than $85,000 for charity while doing so catapults this feat to another level entirely. Just ask Impact 100 Jersey Coast member Andrea Verdone Gorsegner, who recently accomplished exactly that when she clipped into her Peloton bike at 9:30 a.m. on a Saturday, and pedaled straight through 9:30 a.m. Sunday, stepping off only for brief bathroom breaks.

Spin 4 Kids

The result? Infinite Love’s “Spin 4 Kids” event netted $85,196.74  for Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer, the non-profit (501(c)3) she founded in 2013 when her then two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia.  Since its inception, Infinite Love has raised $1.4 million, most of it targeted for research and the rest going directly to families with affected children. It is an entirely volunteer-run organization that helps families with “whatever they need.”

If you congratulate the 44-year-old  Middletown resident on her marathon achievement, however, she will emphatically point out that “Spin 4 Kids” was a communal effort. Long before she’d even sat on the bike, teams across the country had already pledged nearly $40,000. Additional funding came from corporate sponsors, Peloton community members who joined her for part of the ride, as well as donors watching the Livestream event on Facebook.

“My 24-hour ride did catch a lot of eyes, but in no way was I in this race alone,” she said.

Her family was equally supportive, particularly her two daughters, Natalie, now 11, cancer-free and leading a healthy life, and Hannah, 13.

Not only did they watch their favorite Marvel movies together, but Hannah, whom she describes as a “mother bear,” stayed awake all but 15 minutes of the 24 hours and acted as a trainer. She placed frozen towels around her mother’s neck, created a special playlist to put on only “when I really needed it,” and supplied water, snacks and pain relievers.  When Gorsegner’s knees began to ache, Hannah snipped the toes off a pair of compression socks and slid them over her biking shoes and up her legs for extra support. 

“She was my lifeline the entire time! I couldn’t have done it without her,” Gorsegner said.

Altogether, she pedaled 213 miles at a pace of between 7 and 14 miles per hour and burned 3,246 calories. She began her journey on a live Peloton ride with 200 other registered supporters sporting the hashtag #Spin4Kids before eventually switching to a scenic ride.

“All throughout the 24 hours, there would be at least 1 or 2 people riding with me,” she said. “People went way out of their way to ride with me, even in the wee hours.”

When Gorsenger felt weary or discouraged, she reminded herself of the many courageous children her organization helped, children battling a devastating illness and enduring far more pain and hardship than the aches incurred by a marathon ride. This, she said, kept her going.

As for her Impact 100 Jersey Coast involvement, Gorsegner joined in 2020, having initially learned of the group when multiple people suggested that Infinite Love apply for an Impact grant. Thinking that her group wouldn’t qualify, she never did.

But then, at an event at Bell Works last year, she was drawn to a table staffed by Impact volunteers. There, she recalled meeting Deirdre Spiropoulous, Impact’s president and co-founder, who “handed me a folder and said, ‘Take a look.’ “

She did and joined soon thereafter. 

“I love women helping other women, using our intelligence and hearts to make a difference. I am drawn by that alone,” Gorsegner said. “I just love being a part of Impact. It’s a great way for me to meet other women in our area – you never know who you might want to partner with.”

Serving on the Focus Area Committee (FAC) for Arts and Culture last summer, Gorsegner was struck by the group’s professionalism and efficiency, even as meetings were held virtually.

“The respect everyone had for everyone else’s opinion was impressive. Everyone had a voice and was heard. That is how I view women working together. It felt like a true democracy”

She points out that this is strikingly at odds with cultural depictions of women pitted against one another, ala “Mean Girls.”

 Her advice to anyone considering joining Impact 100  is simple. Think investment.

“It’s an investment in our community. We rise by lifting others. The stronger we can make our community, the better for us all. We are all on one path, on the same circle, and it all comes back to you. Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?” 

Meanwhile, it took Gorsenger nearly three weeks before she hopped back on her Peloton after Spin4Kids. ”It was hard mentally, though physically it was fine.”

She has already begun planning a similar event for next year. Learn more by visiting Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer or their Facebook group Infinite Love IN MOTION.

Have or know of a similar story? Share similar inspiring stories of your own efforts or other Impact 100 members here.

Eileen Higgins: Beyond the Grant Member Spotlight

Meet Impact 100 Jersey Coast Member Eileen Higgins

By Janet Mazur Cavano

For the last three years, you’ve served as Executive Director of the Girls Scouts of the Jersey Shore. Before that, you were the Executive Director of the Monmouth County Workforce Development Board.

Surely, you learned of Impact 100 Jersey Coast through your community involvement?
Actually, no, I did not! Claire Knopf (an inaugural member) invited me to an Impact event and how do you say no to her? I’ve been a member since 2017.

What inspires you about the organization?
I’ve been involved in the non-profit world, and we’re always scrambling to get little gifts. But to receive a “gift” or grant as large as what Impact gives can make a significant difference! I also like that Impact works at giving a voice to some organizations we’d never ordinarily hear about.
There are so many organizations out there with great missions and to even apply for a grant, they have to step up. Even if they’re not selected to be one of the finalists, a huge number of influential women at Impact have been exposed to them. For the organizations, it’s about much more than the grant. It’s an awesome opportunity and non-profits should not lose sight of that.

Do you have a favorite Impact success story or memory?
After the annual meeting a few years ago, I went up to a finalist that did not win a grant, The American Littoral Society, and told them, “You need to stay with this because you have a great story to tell – you can’t give up!” It was nice because Girl Scouts later connected with them.

Speaking of Girl Scouts, please tell us more about this venerable 108-year-old institution and your role on the local level.
We serve 10,000 girls in Monmouth and Ocean counties and have 4,000 adult volunteers – that’s the cookie moms, the dads, the troop leaders and more. We actually have a troop that’s run by an engineering group who’re looking to get girls interested in engineering and STEM. People think you have to be a leader to be involved and that is not the case. You can come in and do a one-time event. We are open to anything and everything. It’s a great opportunity for our girls to sample so many new things – we’re much more than the cookies!

And right now (February) is the most important time of year for you — Girl Scout Cookie season, no?
That’s right! It’s important to note that the cookie sales are a program, not a fund-raiser. It teaches girls entrepreneurial skills and goal-setting. It is the largest girl-led program of its kind. Our girls have run a robotics team, traveled to Peru and tried a lot of new things, all funded by the cookies. Also, last year, through the pandemic, the girls learned how to be resilient and how to pivot.

So, how are YOU are you keeping sane during the pandemic and lockdown?
My family has been awesome! My husband has worked out of the house for years, I work out of the house more than not. We go for walks, and I read. I try not to watch TV because I’m so tired of hearing the vitriol, I stay off social media too. We play golf, but not often; we also turned our basement into a gym. Like everyone else, I’m just treading water.

You’re a native of Monmouth County?
Since the age of 6, I grew up in Brielle. I went to St. Rose High School (in Belmar) and then the University of Richmond. My husband and I moved to Fair Haven when our children were small. I sat on the Rumson/Fair Haven school board for seven years

How about a fun fact about you? Something we don’t know
I used to water ski competitively. My mother didn’t like salt water, so we spent our summers on a lake in Connecticut where there was nothing to do but swim and water ski!

The most recent book you’ve read?
“The 10,000 doors of January,” by Alix E. Harrow. It’s a very unusual story and it took me a while to get into it, yet something about it is so interesting. It’s very different than what I normally read.

Bottom line. What would you tell a woman considering joining Impact?
I would tell them not to be scared by the price tag. The $1,100 donation can be intimidating for some women, yet the rewards are there. It’s definitely a group to get involved with – you’ll spend your time with some of the most creative, insightful women who’ll lift you up!

Eileen lives in Fair Haven with her husband Kiernan and their dog. They have two grown children.

Impact Strong in 2021

By Deirdre Spiropoulos, President and Co-Founder

On January 6th the women of Impact 100 Jersey Coast kicked the year off with their first Membership Drive event. Over the course of the next two months the woman’s grantmaking circle will be hosting “Wednesdays with Impact,” a series of 40-minute interactive Zoom events where women can learn about Impact and engage in enriching discussion about the grants Impact has funded over the past 5 years.

Impact 100’s mission is to award membership-funded transformational grants to local nonprofit organizations, enabling them to strengthen or expand their services, while empowering women to improve lives through philanthropy. Since its founding in 2015, the organization has awarded more than $1.6 million to 14 Monmouth County nonprofits to help address unmet needs and reach underserved populations.

“We invite any and all women to attend our virtual events to learn more about Impact and how their individual donation can make a tremendous impact in the year ahead. Now more than ever our nonprofit community will need the support of our grants. The more members we have, the more grants we can award and the more lives we will impact.”  Lori Missig, Membership Chair

The concept is simple. Any woman is eligible to become a member. Each member makes an annual tax-deductible donation of $1,100. $1,000 is applied directly to the Impact grant fund and pooled together to award six-figure grants to local nonprofits. The process is simple as well. Local nonprofits submit applications for a proposed project or program. Each woman votes for their finalists of choice and members are encouraged, but not required, to participate in the grant review and award process.

Breaking Records

2020 marked a record-breaking year for Impact Jersey Coast. Last March, at the start of the pandemic, they closed their membership drive with a total of 456 members which resulted in a total grant fund of $456,000--or 4 equal grants of $114,000 each.

This past November the group gathered for their Annual Meeting via Zoom, due to COVID, but even though the setting was virtual, the excitement was palpable with nearly 400 members and guests attending. The event is the eagerly awaited culmination of a comprehensive grant review process conducted by more than 100 Impact members. From a total of 61 grant applicants, five finalists representing the categories of Arts & Culture, Children & Families, Education, Environment, Parks, & Recreation, and Health & Wellness were selected to present to the entire membership. Finalist information packets were sent in advance to allow members to prepare, and absentee ballots were included in the final vote count. Captivating video updates from the 2019 Impact grantees were also shown so members could see first-hand the impact of their 2019 collective donations.

The following four Monmouth-county based nonprofits received a grant of $114,000 for high-impact projects:

As the runner-up finalist, American Littoral Society was also awarded $2,500 from OceanFirst Foundation, who was inspired by the impact of the night.

Grants Chair Rowena Crawford-Phillips announces the 2020 grant recipients at the Impact Jersey Coast Annual Meeting on November 17, 2020

Impact 100 Jersey Coast is actively recruiting members for the 2021 Class.

For more information or to register for a “Wednesdays with Impact” event please visit or email


Our 2020 Grantees


The Impact Jersey Coast Leadership team delivers their 2020 grant award of $114,000 to Aslan Youth Ministries


The Impact Jersey Coast Leadership team delivers their 2020 grant award of $114,000 to Fulfill of Monmouth & Ocean Counties


The Impact Jersey Coast Leadership team delivers their 2020 grant award of $114,000 to HABcore


The Impact Jersey Coast Leadership team delivers their 2020 grant award of $114,000 to Monmouth Museum


Jennifer Willey: Beyond the Grant Member Spotlight

Meet Impact 100 Jersey Coast Member Jennifer Willey

By Janet Mazur Cavano

You’ve been a member of Impact 100 since 2018 – what inspired you to join?
The idea of bringing women together for good, so we can not only support and empower each other and build connection,  but to do that with the interest of helping to achieve change in our community – it’s the perfect combination of ways that I want to spend my time!

How did you hear of us?
Through my husband, who learned of it through Heather’s husband (Heather Burke, Impact 100 vice president and co-founder). Much of what I do focuses on women’s advancement and empowerment and as soon as I learned about what Impact does, I thought, this is totally my jam!

You are the founder and CEO of  Wet Cement – tell us about your company.
We help to unlock fearlessness to accelerate inclusivity and growth. We do a combination of services from keynote speaking to coaching and consulting, all based around work I started doing in my spare time, when I was an advertising and technology executive. I realized how important it was to empower and connect women.

We’ve been fortunate enough to work with Fortune 500 companies – I’ve been a keynote speaker for International Women’s Day at iCMS; I’ve done trainings and workshops for Johnson & Johnson, Novo Nordisk, Salix. It’s  about advancing women in those organizations, from senior executives down to entry level associates. Our approach is based on a combination of landscape analysis, peer reviewed information and research we did with fearlessness.

So, what holds back U.S. professional women?
We have less confidence in our abilities in the workplace. Yes, outside of work we are more confident in our skills and abilities. Yet at work we don’t advocate; we are less likely to share our most innovative and creative ideas. We are less likely to ask for a raise or promotion and less likely to have a mentor, one of THE most important things that will drive your career.

Do you work with women on an individual basis?
I don’t work 1:1 but we do have a program, Career EXCL, an online women’s leadership with remote, self-paced learning videos with activities and challenges to help women move their mission forward.  

What drove you to create your company?
Looking back, I had a lot of external variables that made me feel “less than.” For example, as a fitness instructor, having to parade around in front of my bosses in workout clothes — to being in male-dominated environments and feeling completely out of place. That, combined with  my own imposter syndrome, held me back from thinking about the leader that I was.

So, back to Impact 100. Tell us about your favorite memory or success story.
I helped as part of the Enrichment Committee to get New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver to speak about making an impact in the community. Getting to interview her for that experience really showcased how diverse we can and should be to make an impact. It was a very memorable night for me.

Also, we couldn’t have the Summer Soiree this year, so, in an effort to keep the event close as possible to normal, I hosted a virtual workshop for the women of Impact. The goal was to help us to connect and emotionally deal with the pandemic. We focused on defining our sense of purpose in line with the Japanese concept of Ikigai (pronounced Ick-ee-guy), meaning, “a reason for being.”  We provided women with something to focus on and allowed then to authentically build some relationships, talking about those four different dimensions.

What’s the most rewarding part about being a member?
It’s an opportunity for women to leverage the skills that they feel they’re not using all the time and put them to use for good.  Women in Impact are in different phases of their lives – they may have “off-ramped,” from a career, or they may be at a later stage in life, “down-ramping” and starting to think about retirement and “how will I use those skills and strengths?” With all the different committees at Impact, women have the opportunity to leverage those skills or build new ones.

It’s a mission-driven organization where everyone can find a sense of purpose.

What advice would you offer to a woman considering joining the 2021 cohort?
It’s as simple as this – if you love being surrounded by amazing women, you’ll find your crew. If you want to make a difference in the world, this is the best place to do it, You can be as committed or as involved as you choose to be.

What keeps you sane and balanced in these pandemic times and otherwise?
Zumba! Love me some Zumba! I’ve been doing it outdoors in parking lots these last six months. My husband and sons also keep me busy playing  football and wrestling – there’s a lot of activities here.

What’s the most recent book you read?
“The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women; why capable people suffer from imposter syndrome and how to thrive in spite of it,” by Valerie Young. It will change your perspective of who you are.

How about the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
This too shall pass.

Jennifer lives in Old Bridge, N.J. with her husband two sons.

Pamela Major: Beyond the Grant Member Spotlight

By Janet Mazur Cavano

This is your first year as an Impact member; what led you to join?
Some of the non-profit agencies I’ve worked with were grant recipients, and I kept hearing about the wonderful programs those grants provided. I wondered who ARE these wonderful people and what IS this organization that’s providing the grants? I later went to an Impact recruiting event at a private home and then to another in February at Langosta Lounge in Asbury, where I learned more. 

What inspires you about the organization?
My heart has always been to work with women; women are particularly powerful. We have a power that is unique to us and when we gather together, we can do wonderful things.

Meet more of our members at an upcoming event. Learn more about Impact 100!

When did you realize Impact 100 was making a difference?
I have worked with non-profits for nearly 20 years. When you get $100,000 that can go into programming that your agency can create – wow! These grants can do incredible things to keep great organizations going!

 You’re serving on the new Diversity and Inclusion Committee. What can you tell us about that experience?
I commend Impact 100 for being aware of racial disparities and asking, ‘Are we doing our best to be inclusive of everyone?”

As a  personal sidebar, it was women in the south, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who kept the lost cause going to reflect their image of the Civil War (editor’s note: the group has been labeled neo-confederate by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups and extremists). To me, Impact 100 is looking to do the reverse. We are asking, how can we bring truth and light and opportunity to people of color? How can we rid ourselves, if we are suffering, from White privilege?

This committee is very, very new; it’s embryonic. Going fast will not be helpful. Finding out information, being sensitive to the membership and going slowly is key.

 What’s the most rewarding part of being an Impact 100 JC member?The strength that you get from meeting other women doing wonderful things in their sphere. Hearing other points of view sharpens your own and the women I have met have been amazing. 

What would you like to see Impact accomplish over the next few years?
By 2023-24, I would really love to see at least 1,000 women join! There are very meaningful, substantive non-profits in Monmouth County; it would be great to do something for them.

What advice would you offer to philanthropic-minded women who want to get involved with their communities but aren’t sure how?
When people are looking for purpose, I ask them, what makes you smile so big when you see it done that your face hurts? Or what annoys you so much that absolutely makes you sick? When you find out what makes you smile, you look for who or what in your community is doing that! If it’s not there, you start it!

As for what makes you sick, go to your city hall, your board of education or your town council, whatever is connected to ‘that thing,” and find out what you need to do. You’d be surprised to learn that many corporations have a foundation that might be doing the thing you are looking to do. 

Tell us about your business
I do life-coaching and training. My company is called Melia Bloom, building people, places and purpose. Melia actually means “honey,” which is what my name, Pamela, means!

I have a program, Her Harvest, in which I take five women who know it’s time to move on to the next level. Now that we’re virtual, we can go nationwide or worldwide!

Seeing the women grow and glow is amazing. The unemployed get employed and the employed leave and flourish.  I also work with faith-based organizations that are looking to connect with non-profits—like business to business matchmaking.

What’s your super power?
Love! I was a transition coach for a youth program, New Jersey Youth Corps at Interfaith Neighbors, and I still see some of those young people. Some of them say, ‘You really loved us and dealt with us, and we weren’t very nice to you!’ They love and appreciate me. Love wears you down. 

How about the most recent book you’ve read?
“White Fragility; why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism,” by Robin DiAngelo. It put language around things I’ve been thinking. It felt like a sigh of relief that it was written by a white woman who does the work to help people deal with the issue of race.

What’s a fun fact about you that not many people know?
I love to collage! I love to take bits and pieces of words or phrases and put them together to create something of beauty that sends a message. I’ve also done that with vision boards. Anything you are interested in or frustrated by – if you get it out there in a physical space, it helps to eradicate it from your internal space.

 An entrepreneur, author, speaker and community activist, Pamela lives in Asbury Park.

100 Impact Members Gather Virtually To Select And Celebrate This Year’s Grantees

By Joanne Colella, Impact Jersey Coast Member

Congratulations are in order – not only to this year’s Impact 100 Jersey Coast grant recipients, but also to all of you, our dedicated members! Thanks to your generosity, your volunteerism throughout the year, and your votes, we have presented transformational grants of $114,000 each to four outstanding nonprofits that provide important and inspiring services to the Monmouth County community. 

The joyful culmination of this unique and challenging year was held on November 17, when members gathered via Zoom for our exciting 2020 Impact 100 Jersey Coast Annual Meeting to raise their glasses, watch presentations by this year’s five amazing grant finalists, and hear remarks by Impact 100 leaders. There were also moving video highlights from last year’s grantees, illustrating initiatives and achievements in recent months that were made possible through Impact 100 funds.

Votes Are In…

The votes received from our 456 members – including those being cast live that evening as well as absentee votes submitted in advance – were then tallied as everyone waited in anticipation to learn who the 2020 grant recipients would be. The final grantees, categories they represent, and projects the funds will support include:

Monmouth Museum (Arts & Culture) – The museum will launch Making Art Possible, a program to bring personalized art programming to people with special needs, providing therapeutic benefits during uncertain times. Customized art kits will be delivered to participants’ homes and workshops will be taught online. At the end of twelve months, the program will be recognized with a community-based gallery exhibit to showcase their abilities and creativity in a public setting.

HABcore (Children & Families) – Their Independence Pathways Program will combine affordable housing with coordinated services to assist individuals and families struggling with chronic physical and mental health issues to maintain stable housing and receive appropriate support and employment services.

Aslan Youth Ministries (Education) – The hiring of a Director of Volunteers will enable recruitment and training of a new generation of Aslan mentors, teachers, and life coaches for the children in their care, with an immediate impact on those hurt by the learning loss caused by the pandemic. They aim to double the number of students reached in their one-on-one tutoring program within three years. The director position will also greatly impact the 140 students in the Right Choices character development classes, working to close the achievement gap in underserved communities.

Fulfill of Monmouth & Ocean Counties (Health & Wellness) –  Addressing Child Hunger program will provide 88,000 meals for at least 450 Monmouth County children at risk of hunger by allowing them to participate in the Kids Café, providing daily afterschool hot meals and homework help; the Backpack Program, providing children with weekend meals, or to receive meals as needed whenever children encounter pandemic-related barriers to participation in other vital feeding programs.

Runner Up Receives $2,500

The runner-up finalist, American Littoral Society (Environment, Parks, & Recreation), was awarded $2,500, thanks to the generosity of the OceanFirst Foundation. Additional thanks go to The Center for Women & Wealth at Brown Brothers Harriman, New Jersey Natural Gas, Grunin Foundation, Stillwell-Hansen, and Bayshore Recycling for sponsoring our annual meeting.


Deirdre Spiropoulos, Impact 100 Jersey Coast President and Co-Founder, noted, “We know that as a collective, we are stronger together. This evening encapsulates what can happen when women unite to pool our individual donations to help our community. We are truly Impact Strong!”